Friday, 22 February 2008

Barrier Wall

The facilitator distributes lots of brick-shaped pieces of paper to the group. On their own, each participant is asked to write down statements in response to the following question:

“What do you perceive to be the barriers to social and educational inclusion for young people who arrive in Britain as exiles?”

When the participants have had time to write about 6-10 statements, the group ‘build a wall’ on the floor with their bricks. This can be done in themes – the first part of the wall could be education, the second social, the third making a new life and so on.

Participants then view the wall and comment on what they notice about it. Then they are asked to choose one statement that they are particularly drawn to (not one they have written themselves). With this statement in mind they think of a question a young person would ask about the issue.
In groups of 6 or 7 the participants form a line and ask the questions in role as young people.

This exercise enables to:· have a collective understanding of the background and context of the work;· clarify our reasons for doing the work;· have the tools to justify the work to funders etc.;· set aims and objectives for the work;· have a point to reflect back on when developing project ideas.

This exercise is a good start to planning a programme of work and an excellent way of facilitating a collaborative learning process with adults wanting to do this kind of work.

It is important to acknowledge that this exercise is about our perceptions and not necessarily an accurate picture of how young people feel.· It may be necessary to set some boundaries about how the group respond to statements they do not agree with.· Repetition of statements is an interesting point of discussion: “Why did that thought come up so many times.” Also, ideas that stand out as very different from others are worth noting as they may help us to look at issues from different angles. It may be necessary to seek clarification of some statements and this is another opportunity for people to learn from each other.

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